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Understanding Objectivism: A Guide to Learning Ayn Rand's Philosophy

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  105 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Based on a series of lectures given in 1983 by Dr. Leonard Peikoff, "Understanding Objectivism" offers a deeper and more profound study of Ayn Rand's philosophy, and outlines a methodology of how to approach the study of Objectivism and apply its principles to one's life.
For the legions of readers who treasure Atlas Shrugged and "The Fountainhead," and who savor cogent an
ebook, 400 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by New American Library (first published January 1st 1983)
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Jeff Yoak
This one was a struggle for me. This is a fairly exact transcription of a course given on Objectivism. The course is the single biggest step forward I ever took in understanding philosophy and it was early enough to be have been one of the more influential experiences on my outlook. I took the (audio tape) course in 1991 and was really looking forward to the revisit decades later.

Unfortunately, though Peikoff is both an excellent writer and lecturer, I found it extremely hard to read his spoken
Jeff Yoak
For me, this was one of the biggest stepping stones in learning Objectivism. I'm extremely thankful that the original course is now available so cheaply and that I'll get to revisit it 20 years later! Going through the course again, I was surprised by how much I remembered and how much of this material is integrated in how I absorb information and learn new things. Also, I was amazed at how much the material is useful now. Revisiting after 20 years I focus on different things in how and why we a ...more
Kurt Keefner
Apr 06, 2012 Kurt Keefner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book. It's all about "chewing" ideas, i.e. breaking them down into digestible form. It's full of explicit examples of how to think about ideas and shows common mistakes in a tolerant manner. Peikoff is also candid about his own problems with thinking, which gives the book a frank, down-to-earth tone. I'm looking forward to reading more.
Lars-Erik Bruce
Feb 24, 2015 Lars-Erik Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You should have basic knowledge about the philosophy of Objectivism before starting on this book. But no matter how educated you might feel about this topic, this book is a must-read. Its main theme (as far as I uncovered) was how to avoid rationalism in your thinking, and what habits you should grow for learning and grasping new material. As you will see, this is really two sides of the same coin. The theme is applied on Objectivism as a philosophy, but on a very few selected topics.

This is not
David Teachout
Jan 19, 2015 David Teachout rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's be clear, this is not a beginner treatise on objectivism. If you have not studied philosophy before and done so a decent amount nor have specifically dealt with Ayn Rand then this book of speeches/essays will largely be frustrating and misunderstood. Even with a good background there are moments of having to work through some ideas beyond skimming. Peikoff doesn't pull back or dumb down, whether out of arrogance or just a lack of desire to take the time to do so (the answer of which is lik ...more
D. B.
Jan 06, 2015 D. B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This excellent supplement to Ayn Rand's fiction, adapted from a lecture series by Peikoff, clarifies her philosophical views and distinguishes it from similar but untenable modes of thinking (notably rationalism, which Peikoff asserts is much more easily corrupted than Rand's philosophy of Objectivism). It's useful for anyone looking to gain clarity on the philosophical ideas underpinning Rand's fiction, and it's much less dry and technical than Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.
Jeffrey Falk
Jan 19, 2014 Jeffrey Falk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an invaluable guide, for those familiar with Objectivism (and philosophy in general), in understanding Objectivism (and philosophy in general). Some of the context of this 1983-1984 lecture is a bit dated (particularly Dr. Peikoff's assessment of the state of today's world, which is significantly worse now), and there is at least one glaring editorial error, but the book, overall, is a crystalline exposition of the valid method of concretizing and reifying complex abstractions; comb ...more
Feb 12, 2015 Francisco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing eye-opener for those interested in Objectivism but tend to be rationalists in their thinking. Peikoff does a great job not only clarifying common misconceptions, but also showing the process of assimilating and learning a new philosophy, which is something Ayn Rand's works couldn't do by definition, since she created the philosophy.
Stephen Bourque
Aug 06, 2012 Stephen Bourque rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book that, despite my having read it slowly and carefully, will require re-reading at some point in the future. It is chock-full of practical guidance in thinking: what to do and what to avoid. It is fascinating to watch Leonard Peikoff's mind at work here--fascinating in at least three respects: (1) for his intellectual honesty, (2) for his extraordinary command of the material, and (3) for the early integration of ideas that will lead to his DIM hypothesis (a publication d ...more
Apr 14, 2014 Rúnar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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This is a seminar given by Peikoff in the 1980s, turned into a book. The style is, being a lecture, very informal. But Peikoff has an exceptionally clear way of thinking and explaining, and his conversational style works very well here.

This is much more than a book about Objectivism. The strategies laid out in the first half apply equally well to any topic whatsoever. It's more of a course on understanding how to understand. The second half then applies these strategies to Ayn Rand's philosophic
May 12, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very helpful, full of thought provoking insight into how to properly relate philosophical ideas to concretes. The book immediately started out strong, then I admit I felt myself faltering just a bit during the remainder of approximately the first third (probably my fault for being a bit tired/distracted), and then, all of a sudden, it absolutely took off for me and at that point I literally couldn't put it down until finished!
Nov 15, 2013 Noel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Leonard Peikoff's oral lectures in written form. With approachable examples and Dr. Peikoff's occasionally amusing comments and observations, this guide describes the right (and wrong) methods by which people try to understand, apply, and validate philosophies, Objectivism included. Note: this book is not intended to be an introduction to Objectivism.
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Leonard S. Peikoff (born October 15, 1933) is a Canadian-American philosopher. He is an author, a leading advocate of Objectivism and the founder of the Ayn Rand Institute. A former professor of philosophy, he was designated by the novelist Ayn Rand as heir to her estate. For several years, he hosted a radio talk show.
More about Leonard Peikoff...

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